It didn’t start well, and surely didn’t end well for J.C. Romero in 2009.
Romero began the season by sitting out the first 50 games after Major League Baseball suspended him due to a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs. By the time the Phillies regular season ended, Romero had again been shelved, this time for a season ending elbow ailment.
When he was able to contribute, Romero did fairly well, although he was not the same lights-out pitcher that took over as the lefty specialist in 2007. In 21 appearances, “Romeo” tossed just 16 2/3 innings in between layoffs, which basically gives him an incomplete grade for the year. He struggled with his command (13 walks, 12 strikeouts), and his WHIP was sky high (1.56). For someone who had been one of the lynchpins of the Philadelphia bullpen, his absence was a major factor in why that crew struggled all season.
Looking ahead to 2010, Romero will once again be counted on to be the thurd guy behind Lidge and Madson. You’d better believe he will play an important role following a season full of rest. That job becomes even more crucial should the Phillies decide against bringing back Scott Eyre. Eyre took over as that specialty left hander and did well, but is currently considering retirement if the Phils don’t re-sign him.
It’s been a downhill trend since Romero was picked up in 2007, an amazing waiver-wire find by Pat Gillick at the time. After 81 games in ’08, perhaps Romero’s arm was blown out, which was a precursor to the flameout in ’09.
Whatever the case may be, expect to see a lot of J.C. in 2010, provided his health is no longer an issue. The Phillies certainly need to bolster their bullpen on the free-agent market as the off-season progresses, but adding Romero back to the roster is a decent pickup itself.
2009 numbers: 21 games, 16.2 inn., 0-0, 2.70 ERA, 12 K, 13 BB, 1.56 WHIP
GRADE: INCOMPLETE – Romero never did get settled in following his suspension and lost pretty much all of the season due to the injury following the 50-game setback. Better luck next year, J.C.